The Trump administration has informed Congress it plans to sell F-16 fighters worth $8 billion to Taiwan amid tensions with China.
Members of Congress from both parties welcomed the proposal and a formal announcement of the sale is expected to be released next month unless lawmakers object.
“With China is building up its military to threaten us and our allies, and the People’s Liberation Army aiming thousands of missiles at Taiwan and deploying fighter aircrafts along the Taiwan Strait, now more than ever it is critical that Taiwan has the support needed to defend itself,” said Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas.
The Trump administration has notified Congress of $4.4 billion in arms sales to Taiwan. This proposal would be one of the largest single arms package transactions between the United States and the democratic, self-governing island.
The move is certain to further anger China at a time when trade talks between the world’s two largest economies led nowhere and tensions between Taiwan and mainland China and Hong Kong and the mainland continue to escalate.
China furiously opposed the move and announced it would take unspecified countermeasures and impose sanctions on any U.S. enterprises involved in such deals, saying the United States was violating China’s sovereignty and interfering in its internal affairs.
For decades, China have increased its threats to reunite the island to its mainland. But President Tsai Ing-wen has steadfastly rejected the “one-country, two-systems” framework that governs Hong Kong. She said that the people of the island stand with Hong Kong protesters who are fighting for democratic freedoms.
Beijing retaliated by cutting contacts with Tsai’s government, reducing its number of diplomatic allies to just 17 and increasing military intimidation toward the island.
As the island holds a presidential election in early 2020, Tsai’s defense spending asserts the island’s independence when she faces candidates who are more favorably disposed toward Beijing.
The Chinese government has blamed the United States for the pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong. While other U.S. leaders expressed their concern about the situation in Hong Kong, President Donald Trump suggested China Communist leader Xi Jinping and he have a “personal meeting” but said, “Let them work humanely with Hong Kong first!”
Includes reporting of the Associated Press